Bengaluru: The recent racial attack on a 23-year-old Congolese teacher, Masonda Ketanda Olivier, who was lynched and stoned to death in Delhi and the subsequent attacks on Africans in the national capital, has left the African community in Bengaluru concerned and worried about their safety.
“The man was killed in a cruel way, by primitive mob justice. If the national capital treats Africans this way, there could be an exodus soon of Africans from it,” warned Mr Bosco Kaweesi, legal adviser, All African Student Association.
Noting that Bengaluru, which is home to thousands of African students enrolled in its many colleges, is no stranger to racial attacks on them, he says the Delhi police should take a cue from the city police's handling of hate crimes. “Top police officials in Bengaluru sensitised all their subordinates including DCPs, ACPs and inspectors in dealing with such hate crimes. Though incidents of animosity between the locals and the Africans have been reported more often from the east and northern pockets of Bengaluru where a good numbers of African national students live and study, the police are now well versed in handling such cases in a sensitive manner,” Mr. Kaweesi added ,also pointing out that Bengaluru has a bigger African population than Delhi. “Our countrymen know the situation in the national capital, and most of them prefer to study in Bengaluru,” he said.
The police, which has had to play peacekeeper between the locals in the city and the African students, especially in the aftermath of a Tanzanian girl being stripped and attacked after a Sudanese national ran over a pedestrian woman in his car, killing her on the spot in Hesaraghatta a few months ago, seems to be doing a good job of it so far. Other racial attacks have been triggered by trivial incidents of road rage incidents or of a shopkeeper refusing to give a cigarette to an African national.
“We had to educate both sides. While we asked the Africans to respect the local culture and their sentiments, the locals were educated about the lifestyle of Africans and told that all foreigners could not be painted with the same brush based on isolated incidents,” said a senior police officer.
We don’t feel safe in India as this happened first in Bengaluru, then in Hyderabad and now in Delhi. I don’t know why Indians cannot associate with Africans.— Mubarak Abdullah, Sudanese student leader
The African community in Bengaluru is in a state of shock over what happened in Delhi. We are worried about our countrymen in the national capital. If such incidents happen frequently, it could have repercussions back in Africa where thousands of Indians live.—Bosco Kaweesi, legal adviser, All African Students Association, Bengaluru
We are completely devastated by this incident. The locals feel we are all disrespecting Indian culture. But I do not know how we are doing this.—David Edward, Sudanese student leader
September 2015: A Congolese student, Borguy Mavinga was beaten up by locals for driving his car in a reckless manner and ramming into a compound wall. Mavinga claimed he was chased by a few youth who abused him for playing loud music in his car and so panicked.
August 2015: Pisse Hotto, an African student was beaten up by locals after he protested against a shopkeeper, who sold them cigarettes but not to him as he was an outsider.
March 2015: Mobs attacked eight Africans at Kothanur in separate incidents. Police claimed road rage triggered the attacks.
September 2014: A 23-year-old business management student, Ammar Khureshi from the Ivory Coast ,who lived in Kamanahalli, was assaulted by three men in Ambedkar Colony, as not aware of the local language, he answered in sign language when asked for a cigarette.
July 2013: A 44-year-old Chad national, Wandoh Timothy was assaulted by 10 persons in Hennur in a road rage incident.
May 2011: A police complaint by an African national that he was not allowed to enter a pub in the city due to his nationality sparked off debate on racism in the city.
January 2010: The beheaded body of Imran Mtui, an IT student from Tanzania, was found on a railway track in the city. Though his parents and the embassy demanded a thorough probe into the crime, the police concluded that it was not a racial or hate crime....